Cracking the Authenticity Nut
Last month I gave a 20-minute presentation to potential seminarians. I talked about pastoral care and working with people who are suffering. I felt good about the talk. And I got positive feedback from others: “You spoke to them from your heart”; and “That was honest and bold.” I spoke to them authentically from my experience as a pastor and chaplain.
Authenticity has usually ridden in the back seat of my life – quietly there, speaking up at times, but not driving my life. Fear of conflict and “what will others think” have been a few of the things that lock me up.
When the channel to my authenticity is open, I feel confident and creative. This is how I like to live, and I’m sure the same is true for you.
Why is something we so desire such a tough nut to crack? It’s elusive because authenticity is a solo journey. Only you can discover your authenticity.
No church, government, school, parent, or partner can tell you who you really are. No person, place, or thing can do the work of unlocking your real self. No external accolades, workshops, or degrees can bestow on you the esteem that nourishes authenticity. It’s an internal knowing and external expression that you alone can cultivate.
There’s only one soul in all of creation you can truly know, and it’s the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. C.S. Lewis
Authenticity is a key ingredient in the spiritual life. Without it, our spiritual life is undernourished. With it, we are ever evolving.
Authenticity grows out of the soil of emotional honesty: what do I fear, what do I love, how do I want to show up in the world, what stands do I want to take, what do I want to let go of?
Authenticity that is nurtured blossoms into spiritual growth. This is because we are spiritual beings having a human experience (to quote Teilhard de Chardin). The more real we become, the more we activate spiritual knowing. The more we let go of what is false in us, the more our latent spiritual capacities awaken.
The good news is that authenticity, like a cold, is catchy. It is easier to access our authenticity when we are in the presence of authentic people. It’s as if there is an authenticity vibe, and when we meet someone who is free to be real, its easier to attune ourselves to our authenticity channel.
So, seek out people, places, classes, books, and groups that call forth your real and best self. There’s no telling where you’ll end up if you intentionally place your authentic self into the driver seat of your life.